We see the flow of life, like a river – as one great flowing journey. The essential flow of life is achieved when we understand the concept of flow and can integrate into everything we do. As part of a regular series, we are asking people we know, people we have discovered and people we are inspired by, to share with us some insights into their life, their work and what flow means to them.
Q. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Kenn MacRae, and I’m an Australian living in Amsterdam. I’ve been here with my family for three years, and we moved here from Los Angeles. I’ve spent most of my working life being a creative, most recently in the role of Executive Creative Director for advertising agencies here, and now I’m moving into consulting direct for brands as well. Before that I wrote a few feature films, and directed two.
Q. Why do you do this profession?
I read voraciously as a child, loved the worlds created on a page, and sought to emulate that. My writing was well-received at school, and I loved the response from people, and the effect it could have on them. You get better at things you enjoy, and that fed into working in advertising and film, because both those mediums, when you boil it all down, are primarily intended to evoke emotion. On top of that, more simply, it’s a lot of fun to be creative – to make things up and bring them to life.
Q. What does being in flow mean to you?
Being in true flow for me refers to the idyllic state in which you’re doing what you feel in your core you’re supposed to do, with pure focus, optimal efficiency, zero distraction, and critically, joy. It means working hard comes easy, long hours fly by, and others around you are able to be caught up in your draft. The end result, simply put, is bliss: a drug-like high where sensations are heightened, awareness is elevated, and rhythm is perpetual. It’s definitely a version of what pro sportspeople, and others, call being ‘in the zone’. And like many precious things, it’s rare: my definition comes from experiencing it maybe three or four times in my life.
That said, I try to get as close to it as possible, as often as I can, by maintaining macro and micro north stars – being clear on what the purpose or aim is in each activity, creative or not. It’s a process of reduction and distillation, where you remove impurities, distractions, procrastinations. Again, it’s an ideal, and I definitely fail at it a lot. But as Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney said in The Martian, “At some point, everything’s going to go south on you…everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, ‘This is it. This is how I end’.” Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” And home is a good place to find bliss.
You can learn more about Kenn here on his website.
What does being in flow mean to you?